Unequal geographies of education in the London Borough of Enfield: A mixed methods approach

Lucy E. Waters
University of Cambridge
July 2019


Government and research councils often call for the raising of disadvantaged secondary school students’ aspirations to alleviate educational and socio-economic inequalities in the UK. This paper addresses the geographical element characterising the intersectional nexus regarding inequality and educational aspirations, manifested at the local scale. Research in the field has predominantly adopted either quantitative or qualitative approaches, thereby somewhat overlooking the benefits of mixed methods investigations. Drawing on Bourdieusian concepts, namely: capital, habitus and field, as theoretical tools, this paper examines the unequal geographies of education in the London Borough of Enfield by adopting a mixed methods approach involving: secondary statistical analysis, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Framing the paper is a comparative context, involving sixth form students from three secondary schools geographically located in the western, central and eastern parts of the borough. In contrast to much political and societal rhetoric, the findings reveal students’ similarly ‘high’ educational aspirations across all three schools, even in deprived areas. This mixed methods approach adds nuance when investigating the significance of geographical place in mediating such aspirations. The findings have significant policy implications, suggesting efforts should be shifted toward implementing aspiration realisation strategies, while simultaneously customising interventions to the place-specific context, to be most effective.

Author profile

Lucy Waters graduated with a degree in Geography from the University of Cambridge in 2018. The fieldwork reported in this paper was conducted in the summer of 2017.

Correspondence address: lucyewaters@hotmail.com


inequality, geographies of education, mixed methods, aspirations, Enfield

Unequal geographies of education in the London Borough of Enfield: A Mixed Methods Approach by Lucy E. Waters is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons Attribution

Based on a work at geoverse.brookes.ac.uk.

Original Papers - Geoverse
ISSN 1758-3411
Editor-in-Chief: Professor Helen Walkington